February 27, 2009




RIC Eliminates Keene State for Third Straight Year


Providence, RI—Sophomore guard Antone Gray (Providence, RI) scored a game-high 19 points to lead No. 17 and top-seeded Rhode Island College past fourth-seeded Keene State, 78-50, in the semifinals of the 2009 Little East Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament at The Murray Center.




The Anchormen (23-4) establish a new program record with their 14th consecutive win. Keene State (12-14), which was held to its lowest offensive output this winter, ends its season with the loss.






 Sophomore Guard Antone Gray (photo by




It is the third straight season the hosts have advanced to the title contest, as well as, eliminating Keene State from the conference tournament. Rhode Island College will host second-seeded UMass Dartmouth in the title match tomorrow afternoon at 5 p.m. RIC defeated the Corsairs, 55-52, in the championship game a year ago in North Dartmouth, en route to its second league tourney title. The Anchormen have handed the No. 18 Corsairs two of their three losses this season.




“It feels terrific to get back to the finals for the third year in a row,” RIC Head Coach Bob Walsh said afterwards. “Our defense was really spectacular tonight. I was really proud of our seniors and our whole defensive effort.”




“We just kept attacking,” Gray said. “Keene State is a big rival and it is a real satisfying win.”




The Anchormen cracked the scoring column first on a bucket from senior forward Kaseem Johnson (New Haven CT), then opened up an 8-2 lead with a three-pointer from senior guard Bobby Bailey (Fall River, MA) and three free throws from classmate center Wil Lyons (Warwick, RI).






 Senior Guard Bobby Bailey (photo by




Gray drove to the hoop and banked a shot in off the glass and freshman forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI) muscled in a putback to raise the advantage to eight, 12-4, at 15:17.




Keene State senior forward Tyler Kathan (Ludlow, VT) hit a jump shot at 13:57 to pull the Owls within six, 13-7. Rhode Island College responded with back-to-back scores as Gray canned a three from the top of the key and senior backcourt mate Tirrell Hill (Bronx, NY) made a layup to give the hosts an 11-point advantage, 18-7, at 12:07.




KSC senior forward Nate Anderson (Westminster, MA) hit three consecutive free throws to pull the visitors within eight, 18-10, at 10:52. Gray and senior guard Cameron Stewart (Newport, RI) each nailed triples to increase the lead to 12, 24-12, at 8:17.




Kathan drained a trifecta at 6:58, but Stewart answered with a three-ball of his own to make the score, 29-15, at 5:04. Anderson and Kathan hit back-to-back buckets, and then freshman guard Tavonne Reid (Bridgeport, CT) pulled up in the paint to bury a jumper, trimming the deficit back to eight, 29-21, at 3:18.




A freshman forward Darius Debnam (Mattapan, MA) layup put the RIC lead back to double digits, and after a Bailey block, Debnam found Johnson on the block for an easy layup to send the Anchormen into the half up by 12, 35-23.




RIC shot 41 percent (13-for-32) from the field scored 13 points off of nine Owl turnovers during the first 20 minutes. KSC shot 27 percent (9-for-34) and scored 10 points off of nine Anchormen miscues.




Rhode Island College opened the second half on a 10-4 run, paced by two Johnson layups and five points, on a three and layup, from Gray, to make the score, 45-27, at 16:49.




Stewart nailed a wide-open triple from the corner at 15:03 and Gray followed with one of his own, forcing the visitors to call a timeout, down by 22, 51-29, at 14:22. The Gray long ball capped a 16-6 run to open the final stanza for the Anchormen.




Rhode Island College came out of the timeout on a 12-5 run, opening up a 29-point, 63-34, lead with 8:30 left to play. Johnson had a layup and two free throws during the scoring spurt.




The visitors never got within 20 points of RIC the rest of the game. Bailey capped the win with a thunderous one-handed dunk at 3:11. Rhode Island College shot 49 percent (26-for-53) for the game. Keene State finished at 27 percent (18-for-66) from the field.




Johnson, Bailey and Stewart joined Gray in double figures with 13 and 10-point efforts, respectively. Johnson led RIC with seven rebounds, while Lyons and Hill were one off the pace.




Kathan, who was one rebound shy of a double-double effort, and Anderson led the Owls with 15 points apiece.